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Knowledge management and capacity building: Lessons from Southeast Asia on the design and delivery of research-for-development initiatives

 

Organiser:
Lisa Robins
The Australian National University
lisa.robins@anu.edu.au

Chair:
Lisa Robins
The Australian National University
lisa.robins@anu.edu.au

Discussant:
Peter Kanowski
The Australian National University
peter.kanowski@anu.edu.au

 

 

Paper 1: Knowledge management and capacity building: Lessons from Southeast Asia on the design and delivery of research-for-development initiatives

Lisa Robins
The Australian National University
lisa.robins@anu.edu.au
 

Dr Lisa Robins is an environmental consultant and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society. She is an inaugural graduate of Oxford’s MSc in Environmental Change and Management, and an Environmental Change Institute–Green College Teaching Fellow (2004–05). She will open the panel session by outlining ten points or lessons on aspects of designing and delivering research-for-development projects, together with illustrative examples from five focal initiatives, namely: the Rice-based System Research Program: Food Security in Lao PDR, Cambodia and Bangladesh; the Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership; Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience (M-POWER); Centre for International Forestry Research; and Abundant Water.

 

Paper 2: Knowledge management and capacity building in multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research-for-development projects

Prof. Andrew Campbell
Charles Darwin University
andrew.campbell@cdu.edu.au

Prof. Andrew Campbell is the Director of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Australia’s Charles Darwin University in Darwin. In this presentation, he will explore the lessons on knowledge management and capacity building outlined in the opening presentation by Lisa Robins through the lens of a large, long-term collaborative, multidisciplinary research program in Indonesia on mangrove restoration for environmental, economic and social benefits. He argues that multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, exemplified by high stakeholder participation and diverse forms of knowledge generation, increase the likelihood of research making a significant on-ground difference to environmental management. The process of generating new knowledge and making better use of existing knowledge to more effectively tackle complex, contested environmental issues with multiple interacting causes and multiple stakeholders (i.e. ‘wicked’ problems) challenges traditional modes of scientific inquiry. This has been well recognised for at least twenty years, evidenced by proposals advocating new approaches such as ‘Mode 2’ and ‘Post-normal’ science. While attractive in theory, such approaches have proven difficult to apply in practice, even in rich industrialised countries. Arguably, such approaches are more difficult to resource and sustain in resource-poor contexts in developing countries, where institutions are likely weaker and researchers may have much less in common with the intended users and beneficiaries of research outputs.

 

Paper 3: Fashions, fads and foolishness: Learning to sustain research for development

Prof. Ray Ison
The Open University
ray.ison@open.ac.uk

Research for development (R4D) has been plagued by fashions, fads and foolishness (FFF) for forty years. My first experiences of R4D were in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma) in 1976 when travelling overland from Australia to Europe. I later lived in Indonesia and undertook short-term assignments from time to time in Indonesia and the Philippines. Of recent time my encounters with R4D have been primarily in Africa, China and vicariously through my research, students and colleagues. In this critically reflexive presentation I explore what the primary FFF have been, why they have persisted, and how in my own research and scholarship I have been motivated to develop and institutionalise a systems praxeology that addresses the trap of the would-be-development professional who believes they, or their project, can take responsibility for the development of another.